This week I've been busy finishing off a new book about inventing characters and plotting fiction. It's a fairly large work for me - I wanted to cover all the bases.
Elements of Story: Character, Agenda & Plot, should be ready for release next Friday.
Look out for it in an inbox near you!
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An Easy Template for Nonfiction
The following easy technique is recommended for the writing of blogs, magazine articles, columns, reviews, and many other short works.
Take a sheet of paper or open a new WORD/Scrivener file.
State the intention of the project at the top of the page. For example:
"Detail five ways to clean a car in less than 1000 words."
Next, write the numbers 1 to 5 down the left hand side. Next to the numbers write:
Next write notes based on your 'statement of intent' underneath the five headings. I generally make one or two word notes that I later use as prompts for the writing. For instance:
Washing car is a pain etc.,
Easy ways would be good
Pay a friend
Barter the job
Make a game of it with your kids
Leave it in the rain
Get a car wash, dummy
Advantages of each
Pride in appearance
Re-state the premise
Evidence you have proved premise
Witty aside to end
This is your template.
Use its headings as a series of prompts for the writing itself. Delete the notes as you write the actual words that the prompts suggest - or leave them in as headings.
You'll note that in the article you're currently reading there are headings to each section. These are what's left of the template notes I made for this article before I started.
Generally I find that template construction takes around five minutes or less.
Often I'll construct a quick template in between other projects - or on the hop - perhaps during an ad break on TV I'll scribble bullet points on a scrap of paper, or maybe I'll dash off a draft template on a pad while making tea.
I find that when I'm on the move I invariably get inspired, even though I'm in no position to actually sit down and do any writing.
So I take advantage of the inspiration to drop the template or notes or bullet points into my tablet or on a scrap of paper to place in my in-tray, ready for inclusion into my writing schedule for the following day.
Longer Writing Projects
You know me: I like to keep things simple.
The template for longer works is based on the short one.
We all know that the best way to tackle any big project is to break everything down into small chunks, each chunk representing something entirely doable within an imaginable time-frame.
Even Tolstoy wrote War and Peace one page at a time.
It's a good idea to know something about your subject - or at least know where to find information - before you embark on a nonfiction template.
However the following rough guide should suffice for most projects.
Copy out the following rough template and make notes beneath each heading.
Acknowledgements: thanks to those who helped
Foreword - a précis of the motivation for the book's existence
Introduction - snappy overview of the contents / book's purpose
Chapter One - identification of subject matter, terms defined
Chapter Two - subject examined
Chapter Three - subject examined
Chapter Four - subject examined
And so on - as many chapters as you need - till the end
Conclusion - overall synthesis of lessons learned, premise justified etc.,
References - chronological list of supporting evidence used:
(book, author, publisher, year of publication etc.)
Recommended Further Reading
Index (if required)
Clearly the way you examine your chosen subject will be entirely up to you.
Often you will already have ideas about how each chapter will focus on the issues.
I tend to write out suggested chapter headings as prompts - with notes beneath, structured in much the same way as I construct the short template described above.
Basically, when it comes to nonfiction books, e-books, pamphlets, brochures and other things like business reports, plans and projections, a long template is a series of short templates strung together.
What did I say? Easy!